Surrealist Caturday Reads

Painting by Remedios Varo

Good Morning!!

The virtual Democratic National Convention turned out to be pretty inspiring. One of the nicest moments came when 13-year-old Brayden Harrington spoke about how Joe Biden helped him with his stuttering. Here’s the video of their first meeting.

Biden followed through and shared with Braden he overcame his own difficulties with stuttering. John Hendrickson wrote about Biden’s story in The Atlantic early this year. Hendrickson himself  also struggles with stuttering.

Hendrickson wrote about Braden at The Atlantic yesterday: Stuttering Through It. How a 13-year-old boy delivered the best speech of the Democratic National Convention.

You could hear the stutter in Brayden’s lungs, all those heavy inhalations, his search for sounds that wouldn’t come. The 13-year-old stared into a stationary camera and told the world about his problem, the affliction he shares with 3 million Americans, one of whom is now the Democratic nominee for president.

“Without Joe Biden, I wouldn’t be talking with you today,” Brayden began. A big smile revealed braces. “About a few … months ago I met him in New Hampshire. He told me that we were members of the same club: Wuh-w-we

… sssssss … sssssstutter.”

That last word—the S-word—took the air out of American living rooms tonight.

It’s one thing to wake up every morning with a neurological disability and face your classmates. It’s another to address a national audience when you know what’s going to happen—that a particular letter or sound is coming down the line, that it’ll all fall apart.

You probably first noticed Brayden’s disfluency on the w and s sounds. Purse your lips and say we as you read this sentence. Do you feel that tension around your mouth? That contraction of your jaw? Now say the word stutter, but hold the s for a few seconds before getting to the t. Do you feel that pressure? That twinge in your chest? Odds are you’re lucky, and you could finish those words on demand. Now imagine you can’t. Imagine it’s not just w and s, but j and l and m and at least a dozen more. The h sound is notoriously difficult, as in here—the thing you’re required to say each morning at the start of school. Many stutterers have trouble with b, as in Biden. Or Brayden.

By Leonor Fini

Consider the emotional maturity it takes at Brayden’s age to talk about his personal struggle—especially when that personal struggle is talking, when it’s hard to talk at all, when it hurts to speak….

He stood up and delivered his speech, and stuttered through it, and said all the words he wanted to say. He told a powerful story in just over two minutes, which is more than some other DNC speakers can claim.

NBC News: Brayden Harrington says DNC appearance boosted his confidence, wants to help others who stutter.

Brayden Harrington, the teen who shared his story on the final night of the Democratic National Convention about how Joe Biden helped him with his stutter, told NBC News Friday it has boosted his confidence and is pushing him to help other kids like him.

“It will change my future,” Harrington, 13, told Nightly News’ Lester Holt in an appearance that will air Friday night. “And I have this thought going around my head that I kind of want to be a therapist when I grow up to help other children in need and other people in need. And that just really is heartwarming to me because some people really need some help with what’s going on.”

He added, “They’ve been hit mentally, too, sometimes with some people mocking them. And it’s just really nice to know that I have that thought in my mind that I want to be a therapist and help these people.”

Harrington, who said he’s been made fun of for his stutter, met Biden in New Hampshire earlier this year and he said he was moved to know that someone of the former vice president’s stature struggled with it as well.

By Leonora Carrington

“I knew that I wasn’t alone and someone knew what I was going through,” Harrington said, describing his relationship with Biden as “a tiny little friendship.” [….]

Harrington said after his appearance he received an outpouring of support and well wishes on social media, mostly from parents whose children also stutter. The teen said he sees himself as a hero to other kids.

“And that just made me feel really nice about how I made that address and how that’s impacted a bunch of children’s lives,” he told Nightly News.

Try to imagine Trump helped someone like that and inspiring that person to help others. You can’t. Trump would make fun of the kid and of Biden for trying to help him.

Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: Joe Biden, America’s Un-Trump.

Biden is not running for President to reform American health care, or to rebuild our infrastructure, or to restore our overseas alliances, although he hopes to do all those things. He is running to be the un-Trump. This is what Biden began his campaign with a year and a half ago, and it is undoubtedly what he will end it with, seventy-five days from now. In his rousing, emotional, and surprisingly effective acceptance speech to the all-virtual Democratic National Convention, on Thursday night, it took Biden barely a sentence before he got to the point. “The current President has cloaked America in darkness for much too long,” he said, staring directly into the camera, a wall of sixteen American flags behind him. “Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.”

For the next twenty-four minutes or so, the former Vice-President talked of character and decency, of the “soul of America” and the wrenching test that it now faces. It’s a message that has changed very little—except in its urgency—since the spring of 2019, when Biden announced his campaign in a video in which he called Trump a “threat to this nation . . . unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime” and warned that the 2020 election would be a “battle for the soul of the nation.” “Everything that has made America America is at stake,” Biden said then, and that was before a deadly pandemic and its resulting economic crisis, before a wave of national protest over racial injustice that Trump has exploited as no President before him.

By Alice Rahon

On Thursday night, Biden was even clearer and more assertive: Trump, he said, is a “President who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division.” Trump believes “the job is all about him, never about you,” Biden said, and he has brought America to an “inflection point,” a “life-changing election” from which there is no turning away.

Without this clarity, Biden would not be the Democratic nominee….

Now seventy-seven and a two-time loser in Presidential politics, Biden has finally won the nomination that he first sought nearly four decades ago. And, on Thursday, he showed how he plans to run against Trump this fall, by making the case against him in simple, factual, devastating terms: five million Americans infected with covid-19, more than a hundred and seventy thousand dead, fifty million unemployed—and “the President still does not have a plan.” Biden signalled that he will make it a choice not between Republicans and Democrats but between Trump and not-Trump.

How will Trump and the Republicans who still support him respond to Biden’s and the Democrats’ message during their convention next week? Even they aren’t sure what they’ll do.

USA Today: ‘Not an easy task’: GOP scrambles to finalize plans for convention amid COVID-19, venue changes, Trump input.

The Republican National Convention opens in just two days, but planners have yet to provide a final schedule or other key details about what will take place during the gathering that will culminate in the nomination of President Donald Trump for a second term.

Officials have confirmed the identities of a dozen or so convention speakers, but not when they will be speaking, where they will be, or what they will be talking about….

Homebody, by Daniel Ryan

Even aides to the Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, seemed confused about whether he would have a convention speaking role. McConnell’s re-election campaign said Thursday he would be campaigning in his home state and would not be speaking at the event. Hours later, a campaign source said there had been “a miscommunication” and that the senator would submit taped remarks to be played at the convention….

There are many reasons for seeming chaos, officials said, including Trump’s insistence on approving most decisions and the egos of people who want prime-time speaking slots.

“You’ve got many senior Republicans who have higher approval ratings than Trump, and so that’s playing into who wants to be seen at the convention and who doesn’t,” Eberhart said.

The event, which opens Monday and closes Thursday night with Trump’s acceptance speech at the White House, will be a far cry from the glitz of conventions past, primarily because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The convention is expected to be a mostly virtual affair, although small crowds are expected at some events.

I expect the GOP virtual gathering will be the opposite of the DNC production–filled with negativity and Trump’s gross, egotistical babbling.

More stories to check out today:

By Alice Rahon

Raw Story: A giant group of ex-Republican officials slams Trump and endorses Biden for president.

Lincoln Journal-Star: McCollister endorses Biden, invites other Nebraska Republicans to join.

The New York Times: Ex-Green Beret Charged With Spying for Russia in Elaborate Scheme.

CNN: Trump remains largely silent on reported poisoning of Russian dissident as Europe, US lawmakers offer support.

Vladimir Kara-Murza at The Washington Post: The world must pay attention to the suspected poisoning of Alexei Navalny. My own case shows why.

The Washington Post: Ex-CIA director John Brennan questioned for 8 hours in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe, a Brennan adviser says.

Politico: ‘It was great’: In leaked audio, Trump hailed low Black turnout in 2016.

CNN: Appeals court sets September 1 hearing on deadline for Trump’s financial records subpoena.

CNN: Court orders Donald Trump to pay legal fees in Stormy Daniels suit.

KFile at CNN: Kris Kobach claimed he spoke with ‘enthusiastic’ Trump three times about border wall project at center of fraud investigation.

CNN: Covid-19 cases tied to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota have reached across state lines.

New York Times: Trump Holds a Rare White House Funeral for His Younger Brother, Robert.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers! Please check in if you have time and inclination.

5 Comments on “Surrealist Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is creepy.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I went to High School with John McCollister and Jim. Their father held that seat and he was the first candidate for whose campaign I worked.

    I was watching Rachel talk about going out to commute with nature and paddle a canoe to enable her to get through what she must do for her job next week. I’m likely going to keep the TV squarely off if these two Tropical Storms/Developing Cyclones don’t get the electricity first.

    I used to watch both conventions. i remember being horrified in 1992. It really was the first time I realized I couldn’t even fake being a Republican any more because I was no longer even marginally included in the party. The Pat Buchannan Speech was horrifying.

    I have a feeling that we’re going to get a cross between NAZI and KKK rally next week and I don’t even want to be near any of it.

    Thanks for writing about Brayden. I loved this story from the first time I heard it. The one thing I will say about Joe Biden is that he does genuinely care for people and will go out of his way to help them. Hillary was like that but, of course, it’s a bigger deal in Joe. Right now, I need to see the kindness in the people of this country. I know we’re all out there but sheesh, the screamers and angry white grievance movement has just blown the circuits out of everything right now.

    Beautiful Paintings of Cats BB too! Saturday is pleasant to get up to with your posts

  3. MsMass says:

    Democrats plan for next week:
    Hopefully it will pull attention from Cheeto.

    • dakinikat says:

      We all need a national vacation and hopefully, shortly a permanent one from him. The only thing that’s going to keep me on the tv are the hurricanes headed towards me. I can’t take any more of the agita.